Visitors can donate at Alabama state parks to give volunteer projects a boost

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At DeSoto State Park atop Lookout Mountain in northeast Alabama, an Eagle Scout candidate built a green pitcher plant demonstration bog so guests can see the rare plant without damaging the natural bog.

At Oak Mountain State Park in north Shelby County, the Back Country Horsemen are building stalls at the equestrian campground so overnight campers will have somewhere to keep their horses.

Austin Evans built a demonstration bog at DeSoto State Park for his Eagle Scout project so that visitors would see what the natural bog for the green pitcher plant was like without disturbing the habitat. (Photo / Alabama State Parks)

Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, a Boy Scout troop pitched in with another group to build and install 15 bluebird nesting boxes.

All these projects were tackled by volunteers and could not have been done without the free labor and, often, donated materials. The Alabama State Parks System survives and thrives with its partners, whether they are vendors who contract to deliver goods and services or volunteers who are willing to give of their time and money to enrich visitors’ experiences.

“It is incredible and humbling when you see the effort that goes into these volunteer projects,” said Greg Lein, director of the Alabama State Parks System. “Everyone in our department knows how much the people of Alabama love our parks. The fact that people choose to spend their free time working to make our parks more fun, more appealing and more visitor-friendly helps us focus on doing the best job we can.”

The Back Country Horsemen built stables at the equestrian park at Oak Mountain State Park, just one of several volunteer efforts at the park in Pelham. (Photo / Alabama State Parks – Anna Jones)

Not everyone who loves Alabama’s state parks is able to devote time to work on special projects. To assist those who can, anyone can contribute to their favorite state parks in your community or throughout Alabama while making a note that the contribution is for the Volunteer Fund. Money can be designated for specific efforts at the park – such as for the young man planning to build 30 animal-proof garbage receptacles for Joe Wheeler State Park as his Eagle Scout project – or can be made as a general donation for any volunteer undertaking.

“Many volunteers use donations of money or materials from businesses in their communities or from friends or family, but this fund gives park users the opportunity to take help even if they can’t come out and contribute physical labor,” Lein said.

Donations to the Volunteer Fund can be made at the main office of any state park. For information about becoming a volunteer, please visit alapark.com/volunteering.

Republished with permission of Alabama NewsCenter.

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